I Fought the Uber Penguin

I Fought the Uber Penguin

And the Uber Penguin did not win. While I’m also dealing with Penguin in the Telltale Batman game I don’t mean that one. No no, this Uber Penguin belonged to Asheron’s Call. The Uber Penguin is a metal encased cyborg-like level 160 critter that roams the frozen plains near Silyun.

One of the new1 towns added in the Throne of Destiny expansion.

Luckily, I had a group.

You might have noticed from the screenshots I hit level 100, too. And then some. I hit level 100 yesterday and finished the night at level 108 tonight.

Progress if anything has actually sped up over the last little while. And it leads me to say something I’m not sure someone enjoying something so old should… But uh; I actually like some of the changes made since the days I played Asheron’s Call.

When I left, you could see the shape of this emerging, the merest outline of what was to come. An even greater focus on quests as the main source of XP. And this was still years before the likes of Everquest II or World of Warcraft.

Specifically what I like, is that it seems from start to finish, despite an ever growing demand on XP generation to meet the curve of increases for your levels and skills — the game keeps up. The milestones — the many, many, milestones — that you set yourself are successfully struck at a steady cadence. Many of these milestones are small things, but equally steady are the big hits.

Level 100. Gaining enough skill points to specialise Melee Defense again. A new tier of weapons. Getting flagged for a new set of quest content. Obtaining new artifacts for future use.

And like I mentioned in that setting goals post, sometimes the things you do can work toward multiple of these milestones at the same time. But other times you need to choose. For example, there are a special set of vendors you can access in Candeth Keep. They offer you 100% of the value of items sold to them, which is insane. But perhaps even better there is a Master Mage there which sells top level components. Usually you would need to take a special trip to an out of the way place to get them.

Candeth Keep is a new endeavour. A fortress symbolising the new unity between the Lugian, Tumerok and Isparian races. To gain the special access you need to sacrifice a hundred (partial, thankfully — not required to be full) bags of material salvage.

It’s by no means a herculean task, but it is time out from questing or otherwise earning XP. It’s time out from looting what you might otherwise want to and it means a period of sacrificing keeping the salvage you might otherwise use to improve your own gear.

It adds a a little friction — and a little friction isn’t bad.

Jahannan Vault — resting place of the Major Smoldering Stone. Also perhaps one of my earliest experiences with an MMO Jumping Puzzle. Much of the dungeon is such.

Striking the right balance is difficult. Too much and the experience overall just isn’t worth it. The shine comes off, lustre gone, away goes the any desire to play.

But too little and I think you strike something a little closer to the current WoW retail experience. The edges have been sanded off to such an extent it may as well be a slip’n’slide.

There is nothing to create emotive memories. No sense of accomplishment through overcoming anything. No decisions to make. Just go with the flow.

WoW Classic reminded me of the importance of having meaningful decisions to make at all levels of play. And on this, Asheron’s Call executes perfectly to my mind.

As to what I’ve been up to? Well.. Lordy.

Just a sampling. Some of these likely to have been worthy of their own posts. Aerlinthe Isle for example? A high level zone with a quest chain that existed since the relatively early days of Asheron’s Call — and yet I never did it.

On Darktide — the full PvP world — it was an RPK (Random Player Killer) stronghold. We Anti-PKers had our places, and they theirs. This was one of theirs.

Now all these years later, I have. I had a sort of mental block over ever getting this place done and thanks to some new friends I’ve made on the Levistras server — that has been busted right through. I’m the proud owner of a Black Fire Stone and the Aerlinthe Recall spell.

Footnotes

  1. Well, not really new. It’s 14 years old after all. New to me, though.

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